The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), the Computer & Communications Industry Association, ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers (ITTA), and NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) have filed joint reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in opposition of the Commission’s proposed rule to prohibit the use of money distributed from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase or obtain equipment or services from any providers identified as posing a national security risk to communications networks or the communications supply chain.
The FCC proposal will impact Huawei, and perhaps others, by not allowing funds from the USF to be used to purchase or maintain equipment from them. The groups said they fully support efforts to protect the United States’ telecommunications supply chain from malicious threats, but the FCC’s proposed rule is not the best way to combat the problem. Instead, the associations recommended that the FCC and other expert agencies should focus on the national telecommunications network’s challenges from overarching national security threats.
“CCA and its members are committed to enhancing cybersecurity and supporting network security initiatives to protect our nation’s telecommunications network from bad actors,” said Steven K. Berry CCA, president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “But the proposed rule will devastate impacted rural carriers, which execute the FCC’s mission to expand high-quality access to telecommunications and information services. It would especially harm rural consumers placing them at jeopardy with little to no national security benefit. The proposed rule is punitive and disproportionate to a small group of providers of service to rural America and will cause more harm than good.”
Kansas-based rural carrier United TelCom echoed these concerns in an FCC filing and went as far to say that this FCC proposal could put them out of business.
“Huawei equipment accounts for nearly all of the equipment used in United TelCom’s wireless network,” said United TelCom in an FCC filing (as reported by FierceWireless). “Prohibiting the use of Huawei equipment, or the use of USF and CETC legacy support to purchase or maintain that equipment, would have a severe and detrimental impact on residents living in remote, underserved locations in United TelCom’s wireless service area.”